Dozens of residents turn out for fracking public hearing in Angier

More than 100 people from Harnett, Lee and Wake Counties filed inside an Angier school to unleash their concerns and fears about fracking.
More than 100 insatiably curious people from Harnett, Lee and Wake Counties filed inside Angier Elementary School's gymnasium to unleash their concerns and fears about fracking.

North Carolina Mining and Energy Commission Chair and Lee County Commissioner Jim Womack presided over the meeting. He answered handwritten questions that people submitted before and during the discussion.

Fracking is the process of using horizontal drilling to inject water and chemicals at a high pressure into to rock to extract oil and gas.

Womack debunked what he described as myths, saying fracking doesn't cause earthquakes or poison the water and that fracking crews won't congest nearby roads.

There were several in the crowd who disagreed including Annette Buckner-Hall of Wake County. Buckner-Hall believes she got sick, during a recent visit to Pittsburgh because she drank water she believes was polluted there by fracking.

"I didn't realize how much of an effect these things have on your body and so our whole family had to start buying bottle water," she said.

Lee County resident Ed Harris, who is a self-described "fractivist," says pollution and health concerns are everywhere fracking takes place.

"Across the country where they're doing this fracking, within a few miles of the well heads there are clusters of respiratory disease, skin disease, something called spontaneous bleeding," Harris said.

In June, Gov. Pat McCrory signed legislation lifting the permit prohibition that blocked fracking until a state regulatory commission created operating rules.

The MEC's public hearing phase runs between July 15 and Sept. 15, with the next hearing scheduled in Raleigh on Aug. 20.

The commission will use comments from those meetings to cobble together the state's regulations.

Once the General Assembly approves the rules next spring, fracking could begin as soon as mid-summer 2015.

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